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Thursday, July 31, 2003

An Open Letter to Andrew Sullivan-Right now, you're POed at the President for coming out against same-sex marriage, to the extent that you wrote this earlier today.
Certainly, if this amendment is pursued by this administration, it's the end of any relationship between the gay community and the Republican party. Those of us who have tried to build a bridge between the two are watching helplessly as the White House mulls burning it. They won't, will they? Or will they?
Bridges may be burned with gays as gays, but not necessarily with gays as individuals. I don't think your sexual orientation is your only defining feature. Your hawkishness on geopolitical issues and your economic conservatism, coupled with your permissiveness on sexual issues make you what might be called a conservative libertarian, or an Eagle as you have coined such a belief-set. An Eagle like you has mixed emotions about the current political system. Your hawkishness and distrust of big government make you lean Republican, but your views on sexual issues, particularly that of homosexual issues, would make you lean Democratic. One of the problems with the modern political system from the vantage point of an Eagle is that moral conservatives opposed to the normalization of homosexuality control the Republican Party. Making the Republican party sufficiently libertarian to have Eagles really comfortable would require POing about a quarter to a third of the electorate, making a plurality win for such a reconstituted party very difficult. Conversely, while the Brights in the Democratic party would welcome the Eagles as fellow free-thinkers, the anti-capitalist and anti-military core of the Democratic party would make the Democratic party an awkward home for Eagles. So, the question boils down to a loose description of you as a gay conservative. If your sexual identity drives your politics, vote Democratic. While you might get the right to marry your partner or get him spousal benefits under more liberal domestic partner laws, you'll have a weaker military, a slower-growing economy and less take-home pay. However, many Eagles, especially straight ones, may opt to stay with the GOP despite the theocon influence of the party. The practical differences in how their lives are lived will be rather small. Abortions may be a little bit harder to get; we're a decade off before Roe gets overturned, even if Bush and his successors pitch a shutout in getting anti-Roe people on the court. Your sex life won't be affected, except that some landlords might not rent a sexually active unmarried couple. Drug laws will stay on the books. Schools will teach abstinence more and be a bit less gay-friendly. The trade-off for that conservatism is a stronger military that is used when proper, bigger take-home pay and a faster-growing economy. As I've said in the past, prudish dynamism is better for Eagles than permissive statism. Eagles who are conservative Brights may hold their nose and vote Democratic just to stick it to the Bible-quoting Dubya. For the Eagles that still have a bit of old-school morality in them, the economic and geopolitical strengths of the GOP will still have an appeal. Thus, Bush won't he appealing to gays as gays, but to Eagles as Eagles, pitching the strong defense and free-market principals that appeal to them. The swing voter is heterosexist but not homophobic. They are tolerant of individual gays in their lives, but still think that homosexual behavior is wrong and are uncomfortable in officially normalizing it. They're uncomfortable with being too judgmental and shy away from some of the anti-gay rhetoric from the right, but when the concept of same-sex-marriage comes on the table, the feeling of "that's just not right" is there. That's who President Bush is speaking to yesterday. He was speaking tolerance from a Biblical perspective, asking us to recognize the sin in our own lives before taking apart someone else's. However, the verse he references goes on to have the person being better able to take the speck out of the other person's eye once he's gotten the log out of his own. Bush may have ticked off some Eagles, but he'll more than pick up some swing voters in the process. Unless you propose some sort of conservative libertarian third party that can get a 40% plurality on a regular basis, Eagles that aren't hopelessly Bright have a better home in the GOP. Chill out over the weekend and take a look at Howard Dean's platform; that will make Dubya look good.

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